Guwahati: Thirteen people trapped in a flooded illegal mine in Meghalaya’s coal-rich East Jaintia Hills are feared dead, reports claimed. The efforts that have been continuing since Thursday, to pump out water, have failed to yield any result. However, massive search and rescue operations are underway with over 100 personnel pressed into action.

The disaster rescue team, despite all means, is facing a big challenge in the flooded coal mine. Poor visibility and coal dust are few of the major hurdles faced by the rescue team. What is worse is unavailability of map or plan of the mine, making the task of rescuing people inside the mine all the more difficult.

It must be noted that rescue teams include personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF).

The confusion on the exact number of stranded miners also persists. Few locals have claimed that five people came out of the mine after it was flooded.

Speaking to PTI, a local said, “The chances of survival of the miners are very bleak. The mine is way deeper than the nearby river. There are also around 20 shafts,” adding three of the trapped miners are from the village and the rest are non-tribals.

“The labourers who were trapped have been identified as Omor Ali of Magurmari in West Garo Hills district, Mezamur Islam, Phesiakandi under Rajabala in West Garo Hills, Mominul Islam of Rajabala in West Garo Hills, Shirapat Ali of Magurmari in West Garo Hills, Mozid Sk of Magurmari in West Garo Hills, Raziul Islam of Magurmari under Phulbari in West Garo Hills, Md. Amir Hussain of Apdaguri under Sirang in Assam, Munirul Islam, Bogidar under Sirang in Assam, Saiar Islam of Khoyarsala under Sirang in Assam, and Samsul Haque of Kurihamari under Bhangnamari, Nalbari in Assam. The three locals were identified as Chal Dkhar, Iong Dkhar, and Nilam Dkhar, all of Lumthari village in East Jaiñtia Hills district,” NorthEast Now reported.

The National Green Tribunal has banned unscientific and unsafe rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya in 2014. Police have registered a case against mine operator James Sukhlain of Lumthari village, for running the mine illegally and at present he is absconding.

Terming the accident “unfortunate”, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said the NDRF, the SDRF and the state police are doing their best to save the lives of the miners. Admitting that the illegal mining continues despite the NGT ban, the chief minister said, “Appropriate actions will be taken against people who are involved in illegal mining.”